Friends and Rivals in the East: Studies in Anglo-Dutch Relations in the Levant from the Seventeenth to the Early Nineteenth Century

Friends and Rivals in the East: Studies in Anglo-Dutch Relations in the Levant from the Seventeenth to the Early Nineteenth Century

Friends and Rivals in the East: Studies in Anglo-Dutch Relations in the Levant from the Seventeenth to the Early Nineteenth Century

Friends and Rivals in the East: Studies in Anglo-Dutch Relations in the Levant from the Seventeenth to the Early Nineteenth Century

Synopsis

This volume, based on both European and Ottoman sources, investigates the commercial, military and diplomatic relations between the Dutch and the English in the Levant from the early seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. On the one hand there was a more or less constant commercial rivalry and there were moments of outright military hostility between the two powers. On the other a common life in the Near East led to a form of solidarity which transcended the political situation in the home countries. The role of the local population of the Levant, of Ottoman officials, and of the Greeks, Armenians and other eastern Christians who intervened both as merchants and as embassy dragomans or interpreters, was often decisive in influencing the dealings between the Dutch and English residents. The nine papers examine these different aspects of a relationship which has never before been studied in a Levantine context.

Excerpt

Alastair Hamiltion

The broad lines of the history of friendship and rivalry between Holland and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are familiar enough. a common Protestantism had gained the two countries common Catholic enemies and had fostered alliances, first against Spain and then against France. Geographical proximity had invited emigration: England had long welcomed Dutch painters, engineers, cloth-workers and other craftsmen, and Holland provided a cordial haven for English refugees, for Puritan dissenters in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century and for Royalists at the time of the Civil War and the Commonwealth. the coronation of William of Orange as king of England in 1689 inaugurated a period of common policies and strategies which endured for almost a century. There was also a profound English esteem for Dutch scholarship which guaranteed a more or less constant flow of English students to Dutch universities and close friendships and correspondence between the scholars of the two nations, while Dutch admiration of various aspects of English culture led to a high number of translations of English works, second only in quantity to those of French ones.

Yet Holland and England were both naval powers, highly dependent on trade, and their strength developed concurrently. By the early seventeenth century they were hot competitors all over the world, in America, Africa and Asia. England took severe measures against the growing success of Dutch trade after the peace with Spain of 1647–8. the result was the first Anglo-Dutch War which broke out in 1652 and lasted until 1654. There followed a second war between 1665 and 1667, and a third from 1672 to 1674. the state of generally stable and friendly relations, of alliance and collaboration, introduced by William iii, ended in 1780 with a fourth trade war which extended to 1784. the English were then out to weaken the Dutch carrying trade, but the emergence of the revolutionary Batavian Republic in 1795 gave Britain its final chance to capture most of the Dutch colonies and put an end to two centuries of commercial rivalry.

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